Grandparents Return Gifts, Even Plants

Stacey Gustafson writerMy grandparents return gifts, even plants.  Their excuses for returning our gifts ranged from too large, too tight, wrong color, useless, costly, confusing or purchased under the wrong zodiac sign. All our presents had been returned for 40 years.

It was good etiquette to accept a gift graciously but my grandparents were the exception.  “Return it, dear.  We don’t need it,” Grandmother said in her girlish voice.  “Save your money.  You keep it,” growled Grandpa, tugging up his baggy trousers.

Each year, my mother continued to be disappointed and surprised by their insensitivity.  “Mom, they do this every time,” I said.  “They hate everything we give them.  Stop buying them stuff.  Give gift certificates.”

Instead, she took their rejection as a personal challenge.  On my grandfather’s birthday, she said, “I’ll find something impossible to return.”

Green Potted Plant

She ordered a live, green potted plant from the local florist, from the both of us. After the delivery, I called to ensure he had received it.  I imagined he would say, “Thanks, I love it!”  Alas, it was not to be.

Grandpa answered the phone and droned, “Thanks for the silk arrangement.”  What did he mean by silk?  We specifically ordered a generic, leafy houseplant.  He described, with distaste, a basket full of red silk roses.  Mom did not order this.

“Are you sure?  Are you absolutely sure that it is silk?” I said.  “Yep, red silk roses,” he replied then hung up.  Plans to send even a simple plant backfired.

I hung up immediately and contacted the flower shop.  After I described the problem, she said, “No way.  We would never send silk.  I have the order right here.”

How could my grandpa confuse a silk floral arrangement with a potted plant?  After a few calls back and forth, he continued to reconfirm, “Yes, it’s fake.”

“Are you sure there isn’t any dirt in the pot?”  I said.


Return Plant

The florist picked up the arrangement at their apartment and scheduled another order to be delivered the next day.

With a told-you-so attitude, the florist called our home the next morning.  “Your order came back to the store,” she imagessaid.  “Just as I thought, a ficus and Boston fern in a basket.”

How could this be? Despite their age, their eyesight was perfect.  They could spot a speck of lint on my blouse from across the room.  What’s going on here?

In the end, they weren’t satisfied with the second order either and returned it in person to the florist.  Brown leaves were this problem this time.  They smoothly asked for the original plant back.

We were never certain about what really happened. In the future, I’m sticking to my original suggestion, gift certificates.  It’s impersonal and returnable, just the way they liked it.

Not sure what to get the grandparents this year?  Check out a few ideas on the following link.

What do you think?  Do you have a story to share?  Relatives that return it all?  Send me a post, I’d love to hear back from you! 


About staceygustafson


  1. I hope insensitivity and lack of gratitude where their only character flaws!

    • staceygustafson says

      My grandparents were loving, dear hearts who cared about family and others before themselves. They were quirky too!

  2. I think your grandparents and my mother were related. Argh!

  3. Hector Timourian says

    great story, suggest you send them wine

  4. Paulette Niehoff says

    They were just from the generation that prided themselves on being self sufficient. They didn’t want to take things from their children who may need it. The best thing you could give them was your time.

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